I Believe in Believing in Myself

Pat - Manchester, New Hampshire
Entered on April 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in believing in myself, because it is in this confidence that I know I’ll find the ability to succeed.

When I was younger, I looked forward to going to soccer practices and games. In class, I’d imagine myself weaving in and out of defenders and scoring the game-winning goal. While playing, I’d see a defender in front of me and want to score. I wanted to show him I was better. If I had a test the next day, it didn’t matter. I had so much confidence on and off the field. I remember one thing my coaches used to tell me, “The game’s just as mental as it is physical.” I would laugh to myself whenever I heard this. “My mind isn’t going to help me make that shot, or dribble past that defender.” I’d then proceed to forget about what the coach said and continue playing.

My coach’s phrase began to take on more meaning as I began branching out and playing on different teams with different kids. My mindset changed. Instead of thinking, “I’m going to score,” I’d think, “I hope I don’t miss.” Failure terrified me. Any athlete knows that when you worry about messing up, you are inevitably going to do exactly that. The more mistakes I made, the more nervous I got. I’d try to put myself in positions where I would never get the ball, and I’d pray to sit the bench.

My hands would start shaking before games. All I’d do was pass the ball, never taking a shot. I sat the bench for my travel soccer team, and after three years I was cut. I was cut from both my middle school soccer and basketball teams both years I tried out. It was frustrating to suffer defeat after defeat when I was working so hard for a victory. I started to believe I was a bad player. I was forced to settle for recreational soccer. Although I dreaded playing recreationally, it was actually the best thing that ever happened to me. I started wanting the ball; I knew I could make a difference on the field. Soccer became competitive for me again. I wanted to beat defenders and knew I could. The return of my confidence did wonders for my game. I started varsity this year on the school team, and it was the best season I’ve had. When I’m on the field, my mind is in the game, it’s not focused on avoiding the ball or messing up. I’m calling for the ball now, and I know my confidence is building.

This year, I scored on a penalty kick, something I never could’ve done before. By believing in myself, I’ve played better on the field, and become a happier person. Now when my coaches state that the game is just as mental as it is physical, I laugh. I know how true that statement really is; I know how important it is for me to believe in myself.